Fourth in the series (The Fuller Memorandum, 2010, etc.) about the Laundry: a weirdly alluring blend of superspy thriller, deadpan comic fantasy and Lovecraftian horror.
In the universe Stross has conjured up, supernatural nasties are real, so naturally the British government has a department to deal with them. (The U.S. equivalent is known as the Nazgûl.) The Laundry, a department so secret that anybody that stumbles upon its existence is either compulsorily inducted or quietly eliminated, seems quintessentially British: the executive offices, known as Mahogany Row, remain eerily empty; forms must be signed in blood; and there are grandiloquent code names for everything. Applied computational demonologist Bob Howard has been fast tracked into management, having survived a series of dangerous and unpleasant encounters. His boss, James Angleton, an Eater of Souls (Don't ask. Really.), worries about CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, but there's a more immediate problem: Raymond Schiller, a supernaturally charismatic American televangelist, has grown uncomfortably chummy with the prime minister, but by convention and statute the Laundry may not investigate the office they answer to. So Bob finds himself working with "Externalities" in the shape of Persephone Hazard, an extremely powerful witch, and her sidekick Johnny McTavish, who has particular experience with creepy religious cults. Equipped with an unlimited credit card and a camera that doubles as a basilisk gun, Bob jets off to Denver to investigate and runs into an organization run by parasitic brain-sucking isopods—which turns out to be the least of his worries. Stross' irreverent, provocative, often unsettling and undeniably effective brew seethes with allusions to other works of literature, film, music and what-all—it's integral to the fun.
Readers familiar with Stross' dazzling science fiction should relish this change of pace and direction.